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History of Golf in Scotland

St. Andrews Hotel Many consider golf (or gowf as it was originally spelled in Scotland) the most significant of all Scottish inventions (though some would argue for single malt whiskey!).

Many golfers travel to Scotland specifically to take a Scottish golf tour and relive the history of golf in Scotland, while playing such world-famous golf links as the inestimable St. Andrews and enjoying all the beauty of Scotland's hills and glens.

Amazingly, golf was being played in Scotland as early at the 14th century, and possibly even earlier. Both the French and the Dutch have tried to lay claim to its invention with their ball and stick games -- unfortunately their sports didn't include the one most necessary ingredient to a game of golf: the hole. Driving a tiny ball through innumerable obstacles to eventally drop it into a tiny hole is a uniquely Scots invention.

Originating on the east coast of Scotland, golf quickly became the Scots' national pastime and passion, bound forever to Scotland's history and people. Both King James II and King James III banned the game in the 1400s as it was taking too much time away from archery practice. King James IV tried to ban golf also, but was instead converted to the game, and Scottish monarchs were avid players ever after -- even Mary Queen of Scots was a golfer during her brief reign.

By the beginning of the 17th century, golf had spread throughout all of Scotland and was enjoyed by not only the nobility but the common folk as well. During this same century, the game was properly organized with accepted rules for all players. In 1744, the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith, later renamed the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, was instituted. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews was begun in 1754.

Golf exploded on the international scene in the late 1800s following the invention of the gutta percha ball. Golf is now played and enjoyed around the world -- no business trip or vacation is complete without a visit to a nearby course.

Following are some books about the history of golf in Scotland, as well as guides to the famous golf courses, and tips for planning a golf trip to Scotland.

The Scottish Golf Book
The Scottish Golf Book


Malcolm Campbell's history of golf in Scotland

A Swing Through Time: Golf in Scotland 1457-1744
A Swing Through Time: Golf in Scotland 1457-1744


Virtually the only accessible resource of its kind - a scholarly work on the history of golf in Scotland over its first three centuries.

A Season in Dornach
A Season in Dornoch : Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands


The author and his wife spent the summer living with the people of Dornoch village and playing at the Royal Dornoch Golf Club (one of the top 15 in the world) - a five-star book.
Intro by Sean Connery

The Scottish Golf Guide
The Scottish Golf Guide


David Hamilton reviews and comments on the great Scottish golf courses

Scotlands Golf Courses : The Complete Guide
Scotlands Golf Courses: The Complete Guide


Comprehensive directory to Scotland’s unrivaled range of golf courses provides players with all the essential information, from detailed descriptions of 500 courses to facilities, accommodations, and directions.

Golf in Scotland:  A Travel-Planning Guide
Golf in Scotland : A Travel-Planning Guide with Profiles of 60 Great Courses


Everything you need to plan and enjoy your golf trip to Scotland - a five-star book

Pilgrims in the Rough: St. Andrews Beyond the 19th Hole
Pilgrims in the Rough: St Andrews beyond the 19th hole


All about St. Andrews - the history and life of the town

The Enchanted Golf Clubs
Enchanted Golf Clubs


Offbeat, humorous novel about a 16th century Scottish ghost who helps a fellow win at golf and get the girl.

Golf in Scotland: A Travel-Planning Guide with Profiles of 68 Great Courses
Golf in Scotland: A Travel-Planning Guide with Profiles of 68 Great Courses

By Allan McAllister Ferguson
Must have resource for planning your golf trip to Scotland.

St Andrews: The Home of Golf
St Andrews: The Home of Golf

By Henry Lord and Oliver Gregory, photographs by Kevin Murray
Beautiful photographs and text about the world's most wonderful golf course - St. Andrews. Perfect golf gift.

Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens
Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens : A Golfer's Pilgrimage to the Courses of Scotland


Every golfer alive knows that he or she has two ancestral homes: one's own, and Scotland. For the tourist or the dreamer, there can be no better guide than James W. Finegan.

Golf Map of Scotland
Golf Map of Scotland

Excellent golf map and road map, includes contact info for the golf courses.




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